How to Keep the Faith Alive in Catholic Youth After Confirmation
Much like Easter, Confirmation suffers a mental ‘exit point’ for many young Catholics. As Easter is looked upon as the end of parent-imposed Lenten fast, some Catholic children treat Confirmation as the end of having anything to do with going to Mass or living a Christian life.
Many Catholic parents, teachers and spiritual directors do their best to combat this attitude. It is our responsibility to remind our children that confirmation isn’t the end of their relationship with the Church but the beginning! It is at this point in their lives that they receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and keeping the spirit alive is to be nurtured throughout their life.
What can we do to keep the Holy Spirit alive and well in our young Catholics? It will take more than tut-tutting and finger-wagging. Keep in mind that using your authority to enforce the faith may very well backfire. Embracing the Holy Spirit on their own, both in Confirmation and beyond is the goal.
A good place to start is to engage young Catholic children in activities that help them exercise the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that had been bestowed upon them in Confirmation.
Reading Scripture and Spiritual Books (Knowledge and Understanding)
Knowledge in this sense is not the knowledge of scientific facts but the knowledge of the spirit and how God sees things.
Help your children seek the knowledge of God. Activities like Bible study classes are an excellent method for nurturing this type of knowledge. Through reading Scripture, your children can regularly affirm why we Catholics do what we do. It also nurtures the gift of Understanding as we try to understand the teachings of the Church in relation to the Bible.
The faith is also abundant with the written works of many devout and spiritual saints. Read catholic based literature, from the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, these are just some of the resources you can share to your kids as they grow older in their faith. Wisdom from the saints can provide many solid answers to the tougher questions in life they will eventually ask.
- Join or start a Catholic Bible study for your age group.
- Start a family book club and include the lives of saints
- Talk casually about matters of faith, driving to school, at dinner time, before watching TV together.
Sharing Faith through Evangelizing and Works of Charity (Wisdom, Counsel and Fortitude)
Sharing the faith with others might seem like a big task for young kids but introducing them to the idea is better than keeping them sheltered. It is usually after Confirmation that growing children are more and more confronted with the reality that not everyone is Catholic.
This is where the gift of counsel can be most effective but also needs the most nurturing. We live in world where misguided souls muddle the difference between truth and lies. They take the things of evil and confuse them with good. People wind up with a distorted understanding of God’s truth that leads them astray and into a life of sin.
Participating in evangelical efforts helps expose children to teachers and missionaries who have experience reaching out to the lost and the unchurched. Their testimonies can serve as great examples of fortitude, where the glory of God is proclaimed even in the face of those who oppose it.
Often, evangelical efforts are also coupled with acts of charity. Charity is an exercise in the gift of wisdom, which is the ability to value spiritual things over worldly goods.
If attachment to earthly wealth is contrary to this wisdom, then it only makes sense to strengthen in through acts of selfless giving.
- Find and join your parish youth groups
- Organize ways for catholic youth to come together in a group activity (a trip, a dance, a speaker, a movie night). Include pizza, it works every time!
- Join a parish ministry and do good for the community.
- Help out on Sunday before or after church in the day care area or with the meet and greet after service.
- Ask you parish director of religious education if there are opportunities to volunteer for First Communion / Reconciliation preparation classes.
- Lead by example and show your enthusiasm for going to Mass on Sunday.
Prayers and Adoration (Piety and Fear of the Lord)
Lastly, encourage solemn activities like a regular hour of Eucharistic Adoration. The atmosphere of being in the Real Presence can strengthen your children’s sense of awe for God.
All Catholics young and old must always remember that God is love and all that is good. Sin is what separates us from Him and offends Him. The state of separation is always terrible and nurturing this sense of awe for God’s goodness is greatly cultivated in prayerful activity.
Because when the awe and fear of the Lord is strong, so is the willingness to obey and revere Him. This reverence is the gift of piety. It is something born from embracing the relationship one has with the Father. It is what differentiates genuine religious acts from empty acts of merely outward religiosity. Engaging in activities like novenas or praying the Rosary are an exercise to keep this gift alive in one’s heart and keep it far from being mere routine.
- Ask your child to prepare and lead the family prayer before meals.
- Pray the rosary as a family.
- Organize teens to pray the rosary together before or after Mass once a week.
- Create family time and make a regular Holy Hour in Eucharistic Adoration.
- Encourage your child to pray for the Saint’s intercession when they are having a difficult time with something (friendships, schoolwork, health issues…)
Take note that these are but some of the many ways you and your children can try as you keep the Holy Spirit alive long past Confirmation. The main point, however, is this: Just as exercise keeps the body healthy, exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit does the same for the soul. Keep on striving to understand the gifts of the Holy Spirit and focus on ways to use them to live a good, Christian life.
Do you have any practical suggestions you can share with our catholic community? We’d love to hear from you!